Nicolae Tanase: Karuna, what is the meaning of life?
Karuna Cayton: Simply said, the meaning of life is to live a meaningful life. The meaning of life is to be happy. This life we have is like treasure hidden in our basement. It’s value is inexpressible. The problem is that most of us never dare to venture into the basement and thus never realize the wealth we have stored within us. In a sense, the wealth of this life, the happiness of this life, exists only as untapped potential.
So, I would say the meaning of life is to access, to explore and develop, our unlimited potential dormant within our being. This is the key to happiness.
This unlimited potential is the very nature of our mind itself. We all explore, investigate, develop, capitalize on the outer environment. Almost our entire life is spent trying to get the external environment “right” so that we feel happy and secure. But this is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The external world is in a constant flow of change. It is never static. It is not reliable. It is the nature of the outside world – our homes, our communities, the earth – to change. To attempt to place our happiness and security in something that is constantly changing is a failed formula from the beginning. And yet, that is what most cultures and societies are taught.
We live our whole life struggling to make ends meet, going to work day in and day out for decades, not knowing that if we just ventured into the basement, explore the depths of our consciousness, we would be freed from the endless struggle that ends in death.
I believe the meaning of life is to be happy. I believe happiness is found within by training the mind, accessing our unlimited potential. In developing our inner qualities of wisdom and compassion – securing the welfare for ourselves AND others – is the true key to happiness…the meaning of life.
Since 1994 I have worked as a psychotherapist, business psychologist, and coach to help people achieve happiness through mental health. As the founder of the Karuna Group, (www.TheKarunaGroup.com) based in Soquel, California, my work is dedicated to bringing the universal principles of Buddhist psychology to people in simple and clear terms so they can use these ideas in their everyday life. In doing so, they are able to discover greater personal happiness and in the workplace, contribute to a more healthy and harmonious organizational culture.
My practice is unique and developed through a circuitous and immensely satisfying route. I am a dedicated student of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master, and his late mentor, Lama Thubten Yeshe. Over forty years ago, as a young undergraduate majoring in Asian Studies, I went to Nepal on the school’s study abroad program. At the request of Lama Yeshe I returned to Nepal to teach English to the monks at Kopan Monastery and to institute a Western Studies Program there. I stayed for twelve years.
On returning to the US, I earned a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology at JFK University. Subsequently, I worked at the Children’s Health Council at Stanford University and was a member of the training in Narrative Therapy at Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto.
In 2012 my book, The Misleading Mind, was published by New World Library. This book presents Buddhist psychology in practical, everyday language for both non-Buddhists and Buddhists alike. I regularly teach classes and trainings in Buddhist psychology and The Misleading Mind.
In addition to my therapy and coaching practice, I served for 28 years on the board of the FPMT (www.fpmt.org), a large Buddhist organization with over 160 centers and projects around the world, including North and South Americas, Europe, Asia, Middle East,
Africa and the Pacific.
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